Disposable Dinnerware Guide

Gone are the days when disposable dinnerware meant cheap, flimsy plates at an outdoor picnic. With the huge growth in diversity of both material and style, today disposable dinnerware can be seen anywhere from wedding receptions to health care facilities. This option has become a necessity in the foodservice industry with its no-hassle clean up and easy transport.

The large variety that disposable dinnerware now comes in can be a bit overwhelming. Let us walk you through everything you need to know about four main types of disposable dinnerware: plastic, paper, foam, and alternative eco-friendly options.

Plastic Disposable Dinnerware

plastic dinnerware
Disposable plastic dinnerware is the kind you will often see in more high-end settings; think receptions, catered events, and cocktail parties. It has risen in popularity over paper plates in recent years due to its resemblance to real dinnerware. With the commonality of plastic dinnerware it is not hard to find matching sets of plates, bowls, and even serveware.

Pros of Plastic Dinnerware

  • Very sturdy, no need to worry it getting soggy with wet foods or collapsing under heavy foods
  • High end plastic dinnerware can achieve a look very close to real dinnerware
  • Comes in a huge variety of colors, patterns, shapes, and textures

Cons of Plastic Dinnerware

  • Can be more expensive than other disposable options
  • Not as eco-friendly as other options

Foam Disposable Dinnerware

foam plate
Foam disposable dinnerware is great for picnics, barbeques, and more casual settings. Styrofoam has often been the target of anti-waste advocates, but still remains a common choice because of its low cost and insulating abilities.

Pros to Foam Dinnerware

  • Lightweight but sturdy enough to hold large portions of food well
  • Great insulator, popular for hot foods like soup and even cold foods like ice cream
  • Tends to be inexpensive

Cons to Foam Dinnerware

  • Is altogether banned in some cities due to its inability to break down in landfills
  • Comes in limited color and patterns options
  • Not microwave safe

Paper Disposable Dinnerware

paper plate
Paper dinnerware is another popular inexpensive option. When there is a pizza party at home or at the office, it’s the paper plates that are brought out, as a quick way to serve and then discard.

Pros to Paper Dinnerware

  • Easy to store and does not take up much space
  • Microwave safe and heat resistant
  • Cost effective and inexpensive
  • Comes in a few different colors

Cons to Paper Dinnerware

  • Less sturdy and liquid resistant than plastic
  • Users often find themselves stacking multiple plates to increase stability

Eco-Friendly, Biodegradable, and Compostable Disposable Dinnerware

compostable plate
Eco-friendly disposable dinnerware is slowly becoming the new norm. Not only is it a great choice for the sustainability of your establishment, but there is a new, more environmentally conscious breed of customers that seek out and patronize only companies who they feel display the values they share.

Pros of Eco-Friendly Dinnerware

  • Environmentally friendly, not only good for the earth but good for an establishment’s image
  • Nice natural look, especially with bamboo and birch wood choices

Cons of Eco-Friendly Dinnerware

  • Does not store as well as other options as it is more susceptible to heat and moisture
  • With fewer manufacturers it can be difficult to find

Compostable vs. Biodegradable Defined

A biodegradable product is something that has been engineered to completely break down in a landfill and “return to nature” in a relatively short period of time. A compostable product is something that has been designed to break down in an even shorter period of time into a pulp-like hummus full of nutrients to be used for composting.

All compostable products are biodegradable but not all biodegradable products are compostable. Both are able to break down into a natural state and are considered eco-friendly, the main difference is that one breaks down completely in landfills while the other breaks down into a hummus state, designed for use in compost.
Source: FTC Green Guide

Trusted Brands

World Centric is a manufacturer of certified compostable products with 0 carbon footprint. It also donates 25% of its profits. World Centric is at the forefront of the sustainable disposables industry and has become a favorite in many “green” restaurants.

Dart/Solo is a strong company that is continuously growing. It is one of the most widely known and trusted makers of disposables.


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